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Justice

HM Chief Inspector of Probation: Appointment Extension

The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): I am delighted to announce that the appointment of Andrew Bridges CBE as HM Chief Inspector of Probation for England and Wales has been extended until 31 March 2010. Mr Bridges’ expertise and knowledge will continue to play a key role in enabling the probation inspectorate to deliver a credible and effective inspection programme for the probation service and youth offending teams.

Legal Services Board

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): The Legal Services Act received Royal Assent on 30 October 2007. Two of the key elements of the Act are the provision of a Legal Services Board (LSB) and the establishment of an Office for Legal Complaints (OLC). The LSB will be an over- arching
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regulator and the OLC will deal with all complaints about regulated legal service providers.

I am pleased to announce that following open and fair competition, regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments, the Lord Chancellor has appointed:

The board members will take up post from 1 September 2008. The appointments will run for three years.

National Offender Management Service

The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): I am today publishing the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) agency framework document which sets out the Government’s vision for NOMS and how it will be governed as an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. Copies have been made available in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. The document is also available on the Ministry of Justice website at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/corporateinformation.htm.

NOMS has the twin aims of protecting the public and reducing reoffending. It is responsible for commissioning and delivering adult offender management services both in custody and in the community in England and Wales. The agency is central to the Ministry of Justice’s work to deliver better outcomes for society, improve further the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, and take forward recommendations for streamlining management structures and reducing overhead costs following Lord Carter’s latest review of prisons.

Cabinet Office

Official Receptions

The Minister for the Cabinet Office (Edward Miliband): I have today published a list of receptions hosted by Cabinet Office Ministers in the 2007-08 financial year.

The total cost of receptions held for the financial year 2007-08 was £2,884.

DateEventNumberHost

23 July 2007

Introductory reception with key Cabinet Office stakeholders

80

Ed Miliband, Phil Hope and Gillian Merron

24 October 2007

Stakeholder reception to mark the announcement of the public service agreement target for socially excluded adults

45

Ed Miliband, Phil Hope and Gillian Merron

27 February 2008

Reception with media correspondents and stakeholders

60

Ed Miliband, Phil Hope and Tom Watson


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“Greening Government ICT”

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr. Tom Watson): The Cabinet Office has today published “Greening Government ICT”, which sets out the steps Government will take to reduce the carbon footprint of their PCs, laptops, data centres and other office equipment. “Greening Government ICT” also sets challenging targets for central Government and the executive agencies, and provides guidance on how these can be achieved.

The document “Greening Government ICT” can be downloaded from the CIO Council website along with a list of potential energy saving measures for ICT at www.cio.gov.uk/. Copies have also been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Access to Statistics

The Minister for the Cabinet Office (Edward Miliband): On 10 December 2007 the Government published its consultation document “Limiting Pre-Release Access to Statistics”. The consultation ran over 12 weeks and closed on 3 March 2008. The Government proposed to tighten the rules under which pre-release access can be granted by:

The Government are grateful for the responses they received to the consultation, which they found helpful in refining and developing their proposals.

The Government are taking forward its proposals and will shortly lay the Pre- Release Access to Official Statistics Order 2008 before Parliament for approval by resolution of each House of Parliament.

I am pleased to announce the publication of the Government’s response to the consultation, “Limiting Pre-release Access to Statistics: the Government’s response to the consultation exercise”.

Copies of this report have been placed in the Libraries of the House. The report is also available on the Cabinet Office website at www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/consultations.

Leader of the House

Regional Accountability

The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): I would like to inform the House that I intend to publish a command paper outlining the Government’s response to the Modernisation Committee’s third report of the 2007-08 session on regional accountability (HC282) on Monday 21 July. Copies will be available in the Vote Office.


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Transport

Correction to Written Answers

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jim Fitzpatrick): Subsequent to written answers I gave on 29 January, 11 March and 2 April 2008, to parliamentary questions on data-handling, I would like to inform the House that further investigation has revealed additional information.

The response to the Hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mrs. Villiers) (Question 175768), [ 29 January 2008, Official Report, column 197W], should have included reference to three further instances of data being accessible overseas:

First, the Vehicle Operator Services Agency has an IT contract with Siemens covering the computerisation of the MOT scheme. The Siemens data centre is based in the UK and all operational data are stored in the UK. However, some of the data were processed by Siemens staff in India on a controlled basis for the purpose of correcting and updating software code. The data were not transferred to a physical storage device outside of the UK, and the data could not be saved, amended or copied to any device in India.

The information that was potentially viewable on this basis was as follows:

Siemens were instructed to revoke all access to operational data from India in relation to the MOT computerisation system on 12 June 2008.

Separately, the central Department has a contract with Siemens for a public enquiry service that uses a system provided under contract by RightNow Technologies. That company back up the information transporting the data electronically via an encrypted channel to their Disaster Recovery Centre in Chicago where it is held in an unencrypted form in a physically secure environment. A further unencrypted tape backup is maintained by Iron Mountain in a vault in New Jersey. The information includes business contact details of DfT staff, and details of calls and callers’ names and telephone numbers for queries that have been referred to the DfT internal team for answer.

Finally the central Department uses an online survey site hosted by SurveyMonkey.com., a US company whose site is hosted in the United States. This facility has been used by the Department to conduct surveys including staff surveys. Personal information relating to DfT staff included name, workplace address, qualifications and employment experience. It was also used by VOSA to get feedback on staff events such as their annual conference.


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The response to Question 179889 from the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice),[11 March 2008, Official Report, columns 211-13W] should have included:

In addition to Fujitsu Database Administrators, IBM Database Administrators also have direct access to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) registers.

Finally, in response to Question 197148 from the hon. Member for Carmathen East & Dinefwr (Adam Price), [2 April 2008, Official Report, columns 1010-11W] the following should have been included:

The central Department uses an online survey site hosted by SurveyMonlcey.com., a US registered company whose site is hosted in the United States. This facility has been used by the Department to conduct surveys including staff surveys. Personal information relating to DfT staff included name, workplace address, qualifications and employment experience. It was also used by VOSA to get feedback on staff events such as their annual conference.

Highways Agency Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Tom Harris): The “Highways Agency Annual Report and Accounts for 2007-08” is published today under section 7 of the Government Resources and Accounts Act 2000. A copy of the report will be placed in the House Library. Copies are available from the Vote Office.

Local Transport Bill

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Ms Rosie Winterton): The Local Transport Bill, currently before Parliament, contains measures to improve public transport and tackle road congestion.

Assuming the Bill receives Royal Assent, the Government propose to issue guidance and make secondary legislation to support the implementation of various provisions in the Bill. In preparation for this, and to inform debate in the remaining parliamentary stages of the Bill, the Department for Transport will shortly be publishing consultations covering:

The Office of Fair Trading will also shortly be consulting on joint guidance with the Department, explaining how competition law applies in the bus market. This guidance will be relevant in England and Wales.

The draft guidance and regulations, and accompanying consultation papers, will be made available on the Department for Transport website, and copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Other consultations related to the implementation of the Bill are expected to be published later in the year.


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Civil Aviation Authority

The Secretary of State for Transport (Ruth Kelly): I am publishing today, and placing in the Libraries of both Houses, Sir Joseph Pilling’s report of his independent strategic review of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the UK’s aviation regulator. I commissioned this review last September, following a recommendation by the Transport Committee of this House.

I am grateful to Sir Joseph for his thoughtful report and his recognition of the important contribution which the CAA makes to aviation in the UK and internationally. He found that the CAA has been and continues to be highly successful, but he concluded that its framework and organisation could be modernised to meet future challenges in the fast-changing aviation sector.

Some of Sir Joseph’s recommendations are for the Government, including some which are relevant to the separate review of airport economic regulation which I announced recently, and to work on improving the passenger experience. I intend to consider these recommendations in detail over the summer and to make a fuller statement in the autumn. Interested parties who wish to comment on the report should write to me by the end of September.

Some of the key recommendations deal with the CAA’s governance and would bring the way that the organisation operates more in line with modern regulatory practice. It would be advantageous to make the governance reforms soon, to help lead the further changes envisaged.

The current Chair, Sir Roy McNulty, completes his term next year after a very distinguished period in that office since 2001. My Department will shortly start the process of seeking a part-time non-executive Chair and then a new Chief Executive, on the basis envisaged by Sir Joseph Pilling.

I am pleased that the CAA board has welcomed the overall outcome of the review, and has confirmed the CAA’s willingness to work closely with my Department in the programme of implementation.

The report is available on the Department for Transport website and printed copies can be obtained from: DfT Publications, Tel: 0870 1226 236, Textphone: 0870 1207 405, Email: [email protected]

Departmental Agencies

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Purnell): I am pleased to announce that the Department for Work and Pensions has today laid in the House the 2007-08 annual reports and accounts for its executive agencies: Jobcentre Plus (HC 707), the Pension Service (HC 855), the Disability and Carers Service (HC 719), and the Rent Service (HC 729). The annual report and accounts of the Child Support Agency will be laid shortly.

Work and Pensions

Employment and Social Policy Informal Meeting

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): The employment and social policy informal meeting was held on 10 to 11 July 2008 in Chantilly, France. I represented the UK.


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The theme of the informal meeting was “Revising the European Social Agenda”. This provided the chance to discuss the Commission’s social package, which was launched at the beginning of July 2008.

The meeting started with a Ministers only breakfast meeting looking at ideas to make social Europe more concrete and closer to its citizens. A “social Europe week” and a common declaration from all member states of the EU’s “social offer/deal” to its citizens were some of the ideas raised.

There were three plenary sessions, each devoted to specific challenges linked to social Europe: the impacts of climate change and globalization, of changing demographic structures and the fights against poverty and discrimination. There was broad support by all delegations for the Commission’s renewed social agenda and interesting discussions on poverty and active inclusion in particular. For the UK, I pledged broad support for the new proposals whilst highlighting some of the areas which would need further work. I raised the challenges posed by financial exclusion and the further possible useful work at a European level in this area. Other member states welcomed this positive statement on anti-discrimination and thought the financial exclusion point was a good example of specific problems needing concrete answers and they were willing to discuss further.


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